Will You be Friends with Me?

I recently watched Dr. Katherine Phillip’s Talks@Columbia talk entitled “Why Diversity Matters“. Toward the end of her talk, she challenged her audience to the following: the next time we meet someone new, do not focus on the similarities but the differences between us. She encourages us to celebrate our diversity.

In her book, Will You be Friends with Me, Kathleen Long Bostrom hits on this very idea. It does not matter the style or texture of our hair nor our preferences in art materials. It does not matter the foods we like or the way we consume them. All of these differences are worth noting and celebrating!

Bostrom’s book encourages children to notice the differences between themselves and their friends and celebrate those differences.

The timing of this book, quite frankly, is perfect. This is a great and safe way to talk to your children about differences. It is also a wonderful way to help our children see that differences are not bad, but worth celebrating. The realistic and adorable illustrations help to show what some differences may look like. The illustrations show children participating in fun activities that your child probably does as well.

I encourage you to pick up a copy now and help the children in your life do the very thing Dr. Phillips encourages us to do: note and celebrate our differences!

For more about the author please check out kathleenlongbostrom.com

Our World

Do you ever marvel at the curiosity of a toddler? They get big-eyed at everything. My son is into saying “wow” every time he discovers something new. Our World is a way to introduce your toddler to the WOWs of the world. This beautifully illustrated geographical book is a wonderful introduction to the different plants and animals our world has to offer.

The simple text helps your child understand just what is happening. The questions asked within the description allow you to engage your child in conversation and help them think about new places.

This book is not only filled with delightful information meant to teach children about the world, but it folds out into a globe! This book is sure to incite many “wows” and “aws” from your little ones. So grab a copy and jump on in to Our World!

The Greatest Treasure

Soolie was enjoying the Easter Play when all of a sudden a Pirate entered demanding the treasure map Old Man Carnaby had been talking about. Afraid and not sure what to do, Soolie sat with eyes glued to the scene unfolding. Old Man Carnaby calmly explained to Captain Bluebeard that he misunderstood and the treasure map he was talking about was not what the captain thought. Instead, this treasure map led to the greatest treasure. Of course the captain was intrigued and desired to know more.

Eventually Soolie understands that the captain is a part of the play and he relaxes. He is able to listen as Old Man Carnaby explains to the captain that God is the greatest treasure.

This is a fun picture book filled with great reminders that life in Christ is far better than any earthly treasure. Get ready to put on your best pirate voice and learn just how great the greatest treasure is!

Library’s Most Wanted

Imagine, walking into the library and seeing your face plastered on the bulletin board! Above it reads: WANTED. That is exactly what happens to Deputy Librarian Libby’s patrons. In an effort to save the books, she scares off her readers creating a veritable ghost town. 

There have been times in my life where I have found it hard to lend books to kids (and adults) because I knew they would not always be returned in the condition I lent them. But as I have gotten older, I, like Libby, have come to understand that books are meant to be enjoyed. And in order for them to be enjoyed, they need to be in people’s hands. Once Libby comes to this same realization, she enlists the help of a toddler to round up her readers again. 

This fun Western-themed picture book is sure to delight both children and adults. I think many of us can relate to Libby’s desire to want to protect books rather than let them loose in the hands of readers. Using fun western quips, Leiloglou has created a book that teaches the importance of putting books into the hands of even the youngest readers. 

Awesomeness:

-The illustrations in this book are so fun! 

-Emphasizes that books are meant to be read and enjoyed. 

*Carolyn Leiloglou is a homeschooling mama and writer. You can find out more about her at housefullofbookworms.com.

*I was asked to write a review for this book. I was in no way compensated and the thoughts and opinions are mine.

The Green Ember

Heather and Picket lived a lovely life with their parents and younger brother, Jacks. Until one day, their world was turned upside down and they were left fighting for their lives.

Heather and Picket spent their days playing in idyllic meadows, listening to their father’s tales, and generally, enjoying life. One morning Heather comes down stairs to find a strange woman in her home. Unfortunately, she and Picket are not allowed to remain in the house for the duration of her visit but are, instead, sent to pick berries. Upon their return home, they discover that their house has been attacked and suddenly find themselves running for their lives. They hastily make a plan to meet at the seven mounds and take off in different directions.

Finding herself cornered by a wolf, Heather thinks this is the end, but the sudden arrival of two unknown rabbits turns their luck around. Once rescued, Heather and Picket are escorted to a rabbit haven completely unknown to them. They know no one save their two saviors, but everyone on the mountain knows them.

Heather and Picket will learn about their family’s history and the war between the rabbits and the beasts of prey. Here they will have to find their place within this society and will learn that things are not always what they seem.

I was first introduced to these books on Sally Clarkson’s podcast. She and her son Joel were talking about their friendship with the author and the fact that Joel was narrating the audiobooks. I immediately bought the series but did not pick them up until now.

This book was absolutely delightful. Several times I found my heart beating fast as the intensity of the story picked up.

Awesomeness:

Very cleverly written story.

Unique storyline and characters.

Light vs. Dark

Cautions:

There are several battles in this book, and like in a real battle, not everyone makes it. However, the writing is tastefully done.

The Seabirds Trilogy

Imagine: it’s early summer. 1939. Your mother is dying from tuberculosis. You are packed up and sent to Maine to live with an eccentric aunt while your parents sail off to Switzerland as a last ditch effort to heal your mom.

This is exactly where Agatha finds herself. What she imagines will be a drab summer of fretting over her parents and learning to paint birds, turns into a grand adventure that will set her course for the duration of World War II.

The Seabirds Trilogy follows Agatha (dubbed Piper by her aunt), her aunt Edie, Horatio, Peter, and her three German-Jewish cousins. Ultimately what starts out as a combination honeymoon and attempt to meet up with her parents (Book 1) leads to her three cousins in Palestine each fighting, in their own way, for a homeland (Book 2). And ultimately, culminates in Australia on the Western Front! (Book 3).

Glasner has created a trilogy that both entices and educates. Full of historic references, these books take you on an adventure from Europe to Palestine to Hawaii to Australia. The characters are rich and real and quite frankly, tougher than nails.

Be prepared to be transported back to, what is quite possibly, the darkest time in the world’s history. As you get lost in the story, you will escape from the Nazi’s, smuggle Jewish children out of Europe, go undercover, learn to fly planes, go on secret missions, and escape a Japanese POW camp.

Book 1: Voyage of the Sandpiper

Awesomeness:

*Historical accuracy! All of her historical references are noted so you can look into them deeper.

Cautions:

*This book is set in WWII and while Glasner does not get graphic at all, concentration camps are mentioned, characters die, anti-Semitic comments are made, and there is some undercover work necessary to save lives.

Book 2: Flight of the Seahawks (My favorite!)

Awesomeness:

*Strong female characters

*Lots of historical information regarding a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

*Uniquely written

Cautions:

*Mostly takes place in Egypt and Palestine during WWII.

*Characters get involved in the fighting.

*Relationships between Arabs and Jews

Book 3: Song of the Storm Petrel

Awesomeness:

*Continued historical references

*Characters come to know Jesus

*Families are reunited

Cautions:

*Japanese treatment of POWs

*The dropping of the Atomic bomb

Note: the author reached out for me to review her books. I received the books for free but was otherwise uncompensated. The above thoughts are my own.

Looking for a challenge?

A reading challenge that is! I don’t know what it is about doing a challenge that I love so much. I am, by nature, not a competitive person but I find some challenges really satisfying.

I, myself, have not created a reading challenge, but perhaps one day. I have, however, collected a short list of some reading challenges I have come across.

The first challenge is a 31 day challenge and comes from Sarah Mackenzie at readaloudrevival.com The goal in this challenge is to read aloud to your kids or have your kids read aloud for 10 minutes at least three days a week. Sarah has a wonderful FREE packet containing trackers and reward ideas for your kids. I participated in this challenge last January with my then 5 month old son. This year I am trying to read aloud to him at least 10 minutes but have not yet signed up for the challenge officially. I also really enjoy listening to Sarah’s podcasts and checking out her FREE book lists. She is a wonderful resource for picking great books.

The second challenge is brought to you by Jami Balmet over at youngwifesguide.com. She has created a challenge for women and one for men. I completed her challenge a couple of years ago. She sets up her challenge by picking categories and selecting books for those categories. She also has two levels: 13 books in a year or 26 books in a year. All the books on the list are nonfiction and meant to help you grow in your walk with the Lord or your role as wife and mother. She, too, has a great podcast as well as several FREE resources on her site.

The third challenge is being led by Jessica Turner at themomcreative.com. I first saw her reading challenge on her instagram account @booksnobery. Her goal with this challenge is to get you to read your books you already own! I love that!! My TBR pile is huge and while I focused on reading from it in 2019, I certainly could focus on it for another year. Now, she does specifically say this challenge is NOT a book buying band, but a goal to read more of what we already own. You can sign up for her challenge on her website. I am very excited about this one!

The last challenge is brought to you by Anne Bogel at modernmrsdary.com. I have not done this challenge before but I like that she gives you categories and allows you to find the books for them. For example, one category is to read a book from the year your were born. How fun is that?!? You can sign up and get more information on her website.

All for ladies can be found on instagram as well. Do you plan to take up a reading challenge this year? Let me know in the comments.

Happy reading!

My 2019 Reading Goals: a review

I started 2019 with the goal to read 3 books a month: 1 from my TBR pile, my book club read, and the book for my LM Montgomery Read Along Challenge. I also decided to keep a reading journal for the year to help me keep up with my thoughts on the books I was reading and give me a place to jot down favorite quotes.

I started the year off with a bang completing 4 books for the month of January! February and March were pretty good too. The area I tended to lag in was the LM Montgomery read along, partly because my local library didn’t have the books I needed and partly because my little guy was becoming more mobile and my reading time was being cut short.

The area I consistently succeeded in was my book club book. I was, after all, leading the book club so I needed to be prepared. The books also fit my current life status: mother, wife, and homemaker. Thus, these books held my interest longer and were easily applied to my daily life.

As the year went on, reading became much harder. I was so tired that reading before bed was difficult. I tried reading aloud to little man and that helped some. I also returned to work. If you were to look in my reading journal you would find a direct correlation between J’s mobility, my returning to work, and my decrease in reading. My book club fell apart after I returned to work so consequently I wasn’t pushing to finish those books. In fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t finish October’s book nor did I open November’s.

The area I was most successful in was not buying any new books in 2019. Ironically! My TBR pile did decrease by several books and I am thrilled about that. I also reread two books in order to complete a series I had read out of order. In October, I was gifted a 3 month subscription to audibles, so I listened to 2 books not originally on any list or in any pile.

I have dealt with a little disappointment in the way my reading year turned out but I have come to two conclusions because of this year: any amount of reading is awesome and read what you really love. I believe it’s good to read books in different genres, but when you find one you really love, it’s ok to read as much in that genre as possible! The last several books I read were Civil War Historical Fiction. I enjoyed every minute of those books and that is what really matters. Not how many books I read, but the fact that I truly enjoyed the time given to those books.

I haven’t set any reading goals for 2020. I did, however, get on Goodreads. So we shall see if that helps me out any. I will continue to keep my reading journal but am not planning to create any specific monthly goal like I did for 2019.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker

You know, when you find your genre, you can’t help but read everything in it!! I was gifted 3 months of audibles for my birthday. Let me tell you, the pressure to use my credit well was intense. Who wants to waste a credit on a poorly written (and poorly read) book? (Side note: you can return audbile books!) Anyway, I took to instagram to try and find the best book for my credit. And let me tell you… I DID!!

Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker is a superbly written and extremely well researched novel. Throughout the entire thing, I kept wondering and hoping that the main character was real… and she was! (Which I learned in the author’s note section.)

As a former history teacher, I don’t want some fluffy novel that just happens to be set in an historic time period. I want the history woven with the story. Jennifer Chiaverini did just that. She included historic details and her character’s insights into those details. You can tell she put a lot of time and effort into her research and the creation of her novel. Personally, I think the tell-tell sign of a great novel is when the content inspires you to read more about the topic. I am looking forward to reading the memoir written by the dress making, Elizabeth Keckley.

Awesomeness:

  1. This novel is well-researched. The accuracy of the history is it’s best selling point!
  2. The characters are extremely well-developed.

Cautions:

  1. It is a Civil War novel and as such the issues of slavery will be addresses. In some cases, slave experiences are recounted. Nothing very distasteful, but real nonetheless.
  2. The difficulties faced by runaway slaves and freedmen in the north are mentioned. Nothing extreme, but if a younger audience is reading, you will need to be prepared to discuss contraband camps and the fugitive slave law.

The Secret in the Cliffs

The Secret in the Cliffs documents the adventures of a boy and his best friend. Kyle, a lover of archeology, spends his spare time exploring the caves in the cliffs above the beaches in his town. There, he makes a discovery that motivates him to explore deeper and deeper into the caves. The desire to explore increases when Kyle realizes that he is being watched… and followed.

Kristin Tucker takes her reader on an archeological expedition of monumental proportions. Through her use of detail, she allows the reader to join Kyle & Kaitlin as they climb, dig, and swim their way through the caves. She invites us along as they make known the secret in the cliffs.

Awesomeness:

  • This is the first middle-grade novel I have read where the main character is so into archeology.
  • There is a lot of really good upper-level vocabulary (My hubby says I’m a sucker for vocabulary!)

Caution:

  • Kyle doesn’t ever reveal his adventures or the dangers to his parents.

Lesson Plan Ideas:

  1. Watch an archeological dig on youtube or the history channel.
  2. Look up examples of hieroglyphics in a book or online.
  3. Create a treasure hunt/ archeological dig for your reader.
  4. Write a dialogue between a news reporter and Kyle.
  5. Create a poster for the museum advertising the skeleton display.

*The author reached out to me to review her book and supplied the novel.